The number of Americans applying for jobless benefits inched up last week but remains low by historical standards, even with the Federal Reserve’s aggressive interest rate hikes meant to cool the economy and taper lingering inflation.
Unemployment claims rose by 5,000 to 217,000 for the week ending Oct. 28, the Labor Department reported Thursday.
Jobless claim applications are seen as representative of the number of layoffs in a given week.
The four-week moving average of claims, which quiets some of the week-to-week ups and downs, ticked up by 2,000 to 210,000.
Overall, 1.82 million people were collecting unemployment benefits the week that ended Oct. 21, about 35,000 more than the previous week and the most since April.
Those “continuing claims,” analyst suggest, continue to rise because many of those who are already unemployed may now be having a harder time finding new work.
Still, the American labor market continues to show resiliency in the midst of the Federal Reserve’s effort to get inflation back down to its 2% target.
Though Fed officials opted to leave the benchmark rate alone on Wednesday, the U.S. central bank has raised rates 11 times since March of 2022 in an effort to tame inflation, which reached a four-decade high in 2022. Part of the Fed’s goal is too cool the economy and labor market, which in turn would slow price growth.
In September, consumer prices were up 3.7% from a year earlier, down from a peak 9.1% in June last year. However, U.S. economic growth surged in the July-September quarter on the back of robust consumer spending.
The Labor Department reported earlier this week that employers posted 9.6 million job openings in September, up from 9.5 million in August. Layoffs fell to 1.5 million from 1.7 million.
The U.S. economy added 336,000 jobs in September, raising the average gain for each of the past three months to a robust 266,000. Though the unemployment rate rose from 3.5% to 3.8%, that’s mostly because about 736,000 people resumed their search for employment. Only people who are actively looking for a job are counted as unemployed.
The government issues its October jobs report on Friday.